The right to food as stipulated in Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya recognises that all Kenyans have the right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of acceptable quality. But we are still hungry.
Kenya has had several droughts that have affected its productivity yields in agriculture over the past few years. This, in tandem with corruption, inefficiency and demographic bulge has put pressure on our current food systems. Food prices have therefore increased to the detriment of the consumer whose income has barely increased.
Because of this, it is estimated that about 16 million Kenyan’s are poor, 7.5million people live in extreme poverty, and over 10 million people suffer from chronic food insecurity and poor nutrition. During periods of drought, heavy rains and/or floods, the number of people in need could double if this trend continues.
Since 2007, the cost and volatility of many staple food commodities (maize flour, beans, carrot and milk) have increased tremendously. Adverse weather conditions and climate change, prolonged or recurrent droughts, shifts in local production, disease and consumption shocks, inflation and changing informal trading patterns, are rapidly redefining food affordability and transforming food consumption, production and market dynamics.
The Consumer Price Index – a measure of prices of a basket of goods over time – has also increased since 2007 due to a steady increase in prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks. While the annual average of non-food Consumer Price Index (CPI) which includes alcoholic beverages, tobacco, narcotics, clothing, footwear, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance, health, transport, communication, recreation & culture, education, restaurant and hotels and miscellaneous goods and services, has increased by 53.9 per cent.
Retail prices of food products have gone up by 83.3 per cent in the last ten years. During this time, 30 per cent of food commodities have tripled in prices. The prices of kerosene and petrol rose by only 15.73 and 28.23 per cent respectively over the same period. The slow rise in the fuel prices was mainly due to the decline in international oil prices that started in 2014 through to 2018. Government revenue and expenditure increased over the past years though expenditure grew at a faster pace resulting in the increase of fiscal deficit.
Data from Basic Report Based on 2015/16 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey, shows the majority of households spend 44.6 per cent of their budget on education. Food closely follows at 33.5 per cent. In male-headed households, expenditure on education accounted for more than half of the cash transfers while female-headed households spend a higher proportion on food. Nationally, 54.7 per cent of cash transfers received from government programmes was spent on education while 32 per cent was spent on food. In rural areas, 43.8 per cent of cash received was spent on education compared with 73.4 per cent in urban areas.
Shocks to Household Welfare
A shock is an event that may trigger a decline in the well-being of an individual, a community, a region, or even a nation. According to the economic survey (2017) the shocks which occurred during the five-year period preceding the survey and had a negative impact on households’ economic status/welfare.
Three in every five households reported having experienced at least one shock within the five years preceding the survey. A sharp rise in food prices was reported by the highest proportion (30.15%) of households as the first severe shock. Most households reported that they used their savings to cope with the shock(s).
The severity of a shock is assessed to define the impact on the household’s economic or social welfare. This is a simple ranking mechanism from the respondent’s perception to assist in determining the effect of the shock. A severe shock has debilitating effect on the household economic or welfare status.
Nationally, a steep rise in food prices was reported as a severe shock by the highest proportion of households (30.1%). Other shocks reported by households as severe were droughts/floods (27.3%), death of other members of the family (21.5%) and death of livestock (20.1%).
In urban areas, high proportions of households reported that they struggled with high food prices (18.6%) and the death of other family members (14.9%). Death of other family members was ranked as the first severe shock, by about the same proportion of households in rural and urban areas. Households that lost livestock through death or theft mainly resorted to selling animals, while those affected by high food prices reduced food consumption at the household level.
According to the derived poverty lines, households whose adult equivalent food consumption expenditure per person per month fell below Ksh 1,954 in rural areas and Ksh 2,551 in urban areas were deemed to be food poor. Similarly, households whose overall consumption expenditure fell below Ksh 3,252 and Ksh 5,995 in rural and urban areas, respectively, per person per month were considered to be overall poor. Further, all those households that could not afford to meet their basic food requirements with all their total expenditure (food and non-food) were deemed to be hard-core/ extreme poor.
Rising food prices in Kenya have an adverse effect on the country’s development as a whole. Key contributors, partners and relevant authorities in the food sector should continue to analyse food prices and related issues, put in place mechanisms to respond to early warning of disasters such as droughts, floods and other disasters and come up with strategies to avert the negative effects of high food prices in the future.
Written and published with the support of the Route to Food Initiative (RTFI) (www.routetofood.org). Views expressed in the article are not necessarily those of the RTFI.
Things Are Elephant: The Effect of COVID-19 in Nairobi Low-Income Areas
The full extent of the impact of the coronavirus crisis in Nairobi low-income areas is yet to be seen but as Juliet Atellah analyses, it will be important to track.
At least 30 percent of low-income earners have lost their jobs since the Government of Kenya placed restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 reveals a recently published report.
The report, titled Survey on the Covid-19 Global Pandemic in Nairobi’s low income Areas conducted by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), a local research firm, found that at least 60 percent of those who have suffered loss of daily earnings claim that the restrictions should be lifted so that people can resume their normal economic activities even if this means the virus continues to spread. This is against a backdrop of increased desperation in many of these low-income neigbourhoods, which has strained resources in a least 75 percent of households, the report notes.
Social institutions and movement have not been spared either by the lockdown. According to the report, at least 66 percent of the respondents have been affected by the ban on travel into and out of the metropolitan and the imposition of the 1900 hrs to 0500 hrs curfew. James Mogaka, a resident of Kawangware told the Elephant that he has been unable to travel to his home county of Kisii to spend time with his family. He has not seen them since the regulations were enforced. As is the plight of Mogaka and many others, the report highlights that 57 percent of low-income earners are very worried on the continuation of the Nairobi travel ban and curfew and they advocate for the restrictions to be lifted so people can resume their normal activities.
Increase in crime has been the major reason why over 80 percent of respondents are keen that the curfew and travel restrictions be lifted and economic activities continue. They are concerned about the future levels of crime due to the economic implications of the lockdown. When asked to corroborate this, Eunice Mwaniki, a resident of Huruma and mother of two, told The Elephant that she closes her vegetable business at 1600 hrs everyday because once dusk approaches, gangs of young men troll the streets pickpocketing and mugging citizens of their hard earned money. She emphasised that the last time she witnessed this kind of theft and daylight robbery was during the grim days of the Nyayo era when Nairobi was infamously christened “Nairobbery”
A majority of denizens are pessimistic that things will change and even bigger majorities are “very worried” about contracting the COVID-19 virus with the constant rise in the number of cases and deaths. Indeed, how such perceptions will change as the full extent of the impact of the virus crisis will be important to track moving forward, given the impact of such perceptions on actual behaviour, both related to the disease and the conditions of life more generally.
On 6th June 2020, a clear majority of respondents had hoped that the President would announce an end to both the travel ban and night curfew but what followed was only a reduction of the curfew period and a hinted policy posture to open up the country. As the country gets closer to 6th July 2020, the day the lockdown will likely be lifted; it is yet to be perceived what direction the government will take. What is clear, however, is that Kenyans are eagerly expecting a policy shift that will make their lives better.
COVID-19 in Kenya: A Situational Analysis of the Now and the Near Future
Using mathematical modelling, Professor Waititu simulates the progress of the coronavirus outbreak.
The daily positive cases in Kenya are on an upward trend. The highest daily count of 278 cases was reported on 27/06/2020. The total confirmed cases so far are 6,070.
In Africa, the five countries with the highest number of confirmed cases are South Africa with 138,134 cases, Egypt with 65,188 cases, Nigeria with 24,567 cases, Ghana with 16,742 cases and Algeria with 13,273 cases.
The number of confirmed cases could be attributed to the total number of tests conducted by a country. For example, by 27th June 2020, South Africa had tested 1.53 Million people. Ghana had tested 288,465 people by 25th June 2020, Nigeria had tested 130,164 people by 28th June 2020 while Kenya had 165,196 tests by 29th June 2020. The implication here is that the positive cases in Kenya could increase with increased number of tests. Kenya will therefore have to increase the number of tests across the country incase the government decides to remove its lock down restrictions in the identified hot spots. Early detection of positive cases and proper contact tracing are very important in the recovery of infected cases.
On the death rate, Kenya has registered 143 fatalities, translating to a death rate of 2.36%. South Africa which has the highest number of confirmed cases in Africa at 138,134, has a lower death rate of 1.78%. One of the highest death rates in Africa has been reported in Algeria at 6.78% from 897 deaths. Ghana has one of the lowest reported death rate of 0.67% from 112 deaths. Egypt has a death rate of 4.28% from 2,789 deaths while Nigeria has a death rate of 2.30% from 565 deaths. Kenya is therefore doing relatively well in managing the positive cases compared to other African countries.
Kenya’s recovery rate is currently at 32.47% from 1,971 recoveries. This is a much lower recovery rate compared to statistics from other African countries. South Africa has a recovery rate of 49.90 % from 68,925 recoveries, Algeria has a recovery rate of 70.60% from 9,371 recoveries while Ghana and Nigeria have recovery rates of 75.98 % and 36.66% respectively. Kenya needs to raise the recovery rate to a comfortable figure above 60%. This will help the country release pressure on the health system and also motivate the easing of the existing lockdown restrictions.
How will Kenyan COVID-19 infections look like in the coming days? The answer may not be definite since the spread of the virus is determined by the nature of community response to safety strategies given by MoH such as regular hand washing, social distancing and staying at home. However, as shown in the prediction graph below, the daily infections in Kenya are going to increase as time goes by. It is predicted that in the near future, the daily cases in Kenya will soon be above 300 with the possibility of a maximum of about 400. This conclusion is based on the assumption that the testing samples will be optimally selected.
Has Kenya reached it’s peak? The simple answer is no. As a matter of fact, Kenya will hit the 10,000 mark of confirmed cases within the month of July 2020. As seen in the graph below for cummulative confirmed cases, the positive cases are still on an upward trend. A peak will be experienced when the cummulative cases will start stagnating around a certain figure over time. With the current trend of infections, the earliest time Kenya will reach its peak is around September 2020. It should also be noted that incase the lockdown is relaxed, Kenya will definitely experience a surge in the infections before the situation stabilises. This has happened in other countries such as South Africa, Germany and China. Since COVID-19 has spread to most of the counties in Kenya, the focus now should be on the level of preparedness by the county governments in implementing the MoH guidelines and the avalaibility of functioning and COVID-19 equiped hospitals.
This report is based on the data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CCSE) as at 9:00am E.A.T on 29/06/2010.
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
If things continue as they are, 2020 will be one of the deadliest years on record for the police. By 1st June 2020, 95 people had been killed by them.
If things continue as they are: 2020 will be one of the deadliest years on record for the police.
By 1st June 2020, 95 people had been killed by them.
— Odipo Dev (@OdipoDev) June 9, 2020
Covid-19 regulation enforcement has added a new dimension to police killings in Kenya. 18% of this year’s victims died as a result of police enforcing these rules. You can view data on #policebrutalityke in the database we built with MissingVoicesKE.
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